To Bandit, Love Mommy (Tears Warning)

Looking into your eyes now, I don’t see that sparkle of mischievousness that used to make them glow with the joy of life and the exuberance of youth. Instead there are spots there…”Iris Pigmentation” the vet calls it, normal for your age, something like liver spots in older people – yes, I’m familiar with those. Your eyes are misted, cloudy with the years you’ve lived. But those eyes still look at me with love and can still melt my heart. The power of your eyes has not dimmed in the least.

Your fur is not as sleek and shiny now, you don’t groom as much as when you were a young and prideful girl – arthritis keeps you from bending as easily as you once did. There are spots that are patchy and dry, places where the hair is thinning (mine is thinning too, my love). Never mind, I will brush your coat for you, tenderly smoothing those places that are now hard for you to reach with your scratchy little tongue. My payment for all the times that tongue lovingly dried the tears on my cheeks when life or love was treating me badly.

Those legs, once powerful enough to leap to the highest perch, now tremble a bit when you walk. My heart breaks when I see you eying a favorite napping spot that you can no longer reach, and then quietly retreating to a corner on the floor to rest. Be at ease my sweet, I will lift you to wherever you want to go. I owe you that for all the times you lifted my heart and made me laugh with your cavorting through the house in pursuit of a fly! I will be there for you as you have always been for me. I can’t run and play as I did in my youth either, but we can sit together in front of a fire to warm our tired old bones and reminisce about the time when we thought we could conquer the world.

Your heart, once so strong and steady, now falters with age. Please, please dear heart, keep beating. Defy the end and stay with me a little longer. My own heart will break beyond repair when you are taken from me. Your tiny heart has always been big enough to hold a whole universe full of love, and generous enough to forgive me all my faults and stupid mistakes. Yours is the only heart that has been ever steadfast and true, unlike so many others that may have been bigger in physical size, but so much smaller in the capacity to love and forgive. You have always accepted me as I am and never faltered in your love and devotion to me. I will love you to the end and beyond, I will never forget you after you have been forced to leave me. My love will go beyond the grave and lift you to the farthest star, my dear.

I will always remember the gift you gave me, the greatest gift imaginable, the gift of your life, the gift of your love. I can never repay what you have given me. I stand in awe of your devotion to such a frail and fallible soul like me. The times I ignored you (when someone not nearly as deserving took my attention from you), the times I left you to fend for yourself while I took care of more “important” business – oh how those times now sear my soul with their loss. How I wish now I could recapture those lost chances to be with you. I know that our time together is so short now and each second with you is precious beyond belief. Please make those moments stretch out long enough to assuage my need for your purrs, your nose kisses, your love.

You no longer pounce through our home with your tail held high, but that is as it should be. The time we do have left can better be spent cuddled close, in peace, softly dreaming of what was and hopeful of what will be.

My dear heart, may I have the grace to appreciate what we have, and the courage to face what will come. I know I can never match your indomitable spirit, your dignity, and your acceptance of what life brings, so please lend me your faith that life is good as it is and death will bring peace and a well deserved rest for a friend who is the best friend I will ever have.

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